Dealing with Exam Results Anxiety

Exam Results Anxiety


Exams are stressful and waiting for results, more so! The blog explains how everyone, from parents and teachers to kids, can handle exam results anxiety.

A word that evokes fear and anxiety in everyone across age groups – exam results. Right from a kindergarten kid to a postgraduate student, everyone experiences tension and anxiety while waiting for their results. It is a universal feeling. One that is only magnified each passing year with the increasing difficulty level in examinations, increasing level of competitiveness and the pressure of expectations.

Funnily enough, the stress a student feels during exams and results is independent of the talent, ability or merit of the student. Even a student who regularly performs well still feels stress and anxiety when results are due.

According to mental health professionals, feeling anxious over results is natural. However, if the anxiety becomes so bad that it affects regular tasks and activities, they advise seeking professional help. The condition is called exam results anxiety which can be handled and overcome.

Perpetuating Anxiety, Pressurizing Our Children

Many a time, no intervention is needed when children feel exam results anxiety. They get through the period on their own. However, there might be external factors contributing to making their anxiety worse.

  • We live in a society where our children’s marks are everyone’s business. Curious relatives and nosy neighbours often ask parents about the child’s performance in exams in front of the child itself. Nobody thinks about how this affects the child.
  • Add to this parental pressure, expectations and comparisons and the child is placed under needless pressure.
  • Teachers in school might exacerbate the situation further by scolding children publicly for not performing up to expectations.

Parents’ Responsibility

  • Parents should always keep the lines of communication open so that during times of distress children feel comfortable talking to them. Talking itself is therapeutic and can help ease the child’s fears.
  • Encourage the child to go out and enjoy nature; exercising or playing a sport also helps.
  • Make sure he/she eats a healthy diet and gets enough sleep.
  • Also talk to them about limiting gadgets time.

Practicing all this will divert them, improve their mood and reduce the stress they feel. Never compare them to their siblings or contemporaries. Let your child know that he/she is loved unconditionally.

If in spite of all this, the anxiety gets to be too much for them, consider getting professional help. Children will probably not realize that they need help. The onus is on the parents to pay attention to their children and to intervene if necessary and get them the help they need. If you notice the following in your children, it may be time to get help.

  • Inability to sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inability to perform daily tasks
  • Reduced self-confidence
  • Behavioural changes
  • Complaints of headache/stomach ache
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Short-tempered behaviour

The Role Teachers Play

  • Students spend a lot of time at school and teachers’ words and actions affect students quite a lot.
  • Teachers need to realize the impact their words have on young minds.
  • An encouraging word, praise on a job well done, acknowledgment of students’ efforts, etc. will go a long way towards mitigating the stress students feel.
  • Teachers too are pressured to show results and they transfer this pressure to the students.
  • Focusing on the learning rather than the outcome will help immensely.
  • Humiliating students who haven’t performed up to expectations is something that should never be done.
  • Teachers should understand that their words can make or break a student and thus should be careful about what they say.
  • This is not to say that teachers should not reprimand students at all, rather, it is more about the way things are said.
  • Speaking to them privately about what went wrong, how they can improve, etc. will actually help the student perform better.

Things Kids Can Do

There are a few simple things that will help allay anxiety about exam results.

  • Talk It Out: Confide your fears in someone whom you feel comfortable talking too. Unburdening will help.
  • Engage in a Physical Activity: If there is a sport you enjoy, do go out and play. Nothing can take your mind off worry like a sport. If not, at least get out of the house and go for a walk. The change of pace will be good for your mind and body.
  • Go Out with Friends: Your exams are over and there is no better time to meet up with friends than now. Spending time with friends and family will help you relax.
  • Plan a Vacation: Ask your parents if it would be possible to go on a trip. A change in scenery will be a welcome break.
  • Avoid Comparisons: Do not compare yourselves to friends who always seem to do better than you. Remember, each of us has our own talents and abilities.
  • Stay Away from Social Media: Sometimes, speculations and discussions on social media sites can increase the anxiety you feel. If this is true for you, avoid social media for a while.
  • Avoid Caffeine and Energy Drinks: They make you more restless. They are best avoided especially before bed time.
  • Pay Attention to Friends Around You: Your friends are also going through the same anxiety as you so look out for them too. If you notice behavioural changes that alarm you, do try to get elders involved to get them the help they need.

Message for Kids

  • Waiting for results is not easy. You are not only worried about your marks but also other people’s reaction to your marks. You are not alone in feeling this and however much things seem bleak at the present moment, do remember that they always get better.
  • If you get the marks you expected, it is absolutely great for you. But do remember that not all kids would have gotten what they wanted. Be considerate of others’ feelings and tone down the celebrations in front of them.
  • If you do not get the marks you wanted, do remember that marks are not the be all and end all of everything even though they are often portrayed as such. There are always choices in life and there are always doors waiting to be opened if you just look around. Just keep in mind that things always work out; do not beat yourself up and stay confident.